3 January 2012
Ethiopians celebrate Maskal in 2007. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
For many Christians around the world, the Christmas season is celebrated with lights — but the photo above reminds us that Ethiopians use light to mark another great feast, Maskal, which commemorates the finding of the true cross by St. Helena. The feast takes place in late September. As this account describes it:
Maskal is a religious and joyful annual social occasion that Christians throughout the country look forward to each year. Both women and men wear their national clothes, while youths boast and compete in fights with sticks. There is also jesting as well as flirting and courting sanctioned by the festival. These days, people return from the capital parade to their houses and bring the torches called Chibbo, to neighborhood bonfire gatherings.
You can read more about Ethiopia’s religious traditions in this article from ONE in 2004: Behold the Ethiopian.
30 December 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Africa
A woman prays in a church in Deir Azra, a Christian village in Upper Egypt. This is an unpublished photo from the September 2011 story Spotlight: Coptic Women. (photo: Holly Pickett)
2011 was a year of change throughout the world. Many countries in the Middle East underwent political upheavals — the repercussions of which will surely unfold for years to come. The people and churches we serve in the region — from Iraq to Egypt to Syria — were undoubtedly affected. Through it all, and with your generosity, CNEWA has assisted Christians throughout the Middle East.
This year has been one of change for our agency, too. In September, we welcomed a new president, Msgr. John E. Kozar.
With your continued support, CNEWA will remain a lifeline to those in need in the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe in 2012! May your New Year be a blessed and prosperous one!
29 December 2011
Tags: Egypt Africa Coptic Christians Coptic Church
Sister Leema Rose and volunteer Jancy Kuthoor visit the homes of needy residents in Dharavi, Mumbai’s most infamous slum. (photo:Peter Lemieux)
In the July issue of ONE, Peter Lemieux reported on the work of the Nirmala Dasi Sisters with Mumbai’s poor. Many of the people the sisters serve live in Dharavi, Mumbai’s most infamous slum. Today’s front page of The New York Times featured an article on Dharavi and it’s residents’ unwavering hope in spite of the many odds they face.
The computer sits on a small table beside the bed, protected, purchased for $354 from savings, even though the family has no Internet connection. The oldest son stores his work on a pen drive and prints it somewhere else. Ms. Baskar, a seamstress, spends five months’ worth of her income, almost $400, to send three of her children to private schools. Her daughter wants to be a flight attendant. Her youngest son, a mechanical engineer.
“My daughter is getting a better education, and she will get a better job,” Ms. Baskar said. “The children’s lives should be better. Whatever hardships we face are fine.”
Education is hope in Dharavi. On a recent afternoon outside St. Anthony’s, a parochial school in the slum, Hindu mothers in saris waited for their children beside Muslim mothers in burqas. The parents were not concerned about the crucifix on the wall; they wanted their children to learn English, the language considered to be a ticket out of the slums in India.
For more, read In One Slum, Misery, Work, Politics and Hope.
28 December 2011
Tags: India Sisters Poor/Poverty
Founded by the Good Shepherd Sisters in 1987, the Bethlehem Day Care Center serves the families of Cherkos, an impoverished neighborhood in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
(photo: Sean Sprague)
A Catholic school education opens the door to a new world and better life for many of the families CNEWA serves. Its value is priceless, as Sean Sprague reported in this story from the March 2006 issue of ONE.
Paul Wachter reported on the social implications of providing children with a Catholic school education in Ethiopia in the March 2007 issue of ONE:
While much progress is being made at relatively prosperous schools like Bisrate Gabriel (which CNEWA supported in the past), the greatest challenges lie with Ethiopia’s underserved poor.
“It helps if we reach the kids early,” said Genet Assefa, principal of the Bethlehem Day Care Center. The center, founded by the Good Shepherd Sisters in 1987, caters to the children of Cherkos, a slum in Addis Ababa that takes its name from the neighborhood church. (The sisters run a second day care facility in Addis Ababa, the Good Shepherd Sisters’ Center.)
On a recent visit to the Bethlehem center, more than 150 children, all under 7, were fully engaged in their classes. Some recited the English alphabet: “C! C is for cat.” Others practiced Amharic, their national language.
“The center serves two purposes,” said Mrs. Assefa. “It gives these children access to an early education that they wouldn’t ordinarily have, which will encourage them to go on to primary school and beyond. And it also frees up the parents, many of whom are single mothers, so that they can try to earn a living and improve their lives.”
For more see, Making the Grade in Ethiopia and Breaking Barriers. To learn how you can help educate a child in Ethiopia, visit our website.
23 December 2011
Tags: Ethiopia Children Africa Catholic Schools
In Ukraine, a boy stands before a tetrapod (icon stand) and a Nativity scene.
(photo: Ihor Tabin’sky)
We’ll be celebrating the holiday this weekend and returning to the office on Wednesday.
In the meantime, from our family to yours: have a safe, blessed and happy Christmas!
22 December 2011
Tags: Ukraine Church Christian
Bohdana Havryliuk, left, Marichka Semeniuk and Marichka Havryliuk carol near Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Kosmach, Ukraine. (photo: Petro Didula)
Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, today marks the winter solstice. It is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The image above, from the November 2004 issue of ONE, shows carolers in Ukraine in the snow. What better way to weclome winter!
As the article notes:
“They can carol for a whole day at one house, if the man of the house provides enough food and drink. In the 1980’s some carolers came to Kosmach from another village to make more money,” he remembers. “At first people didn’t know the difference, but now they don’t give outsiders anything.”
But outside ways are making an impact on the Hutsuls; a dearth of job opportunities threatens the Hutsuls and their traditions.
“There’s no work in the village,” says a native of Kosmach, Anna Havryliuk. “Young people leave the country looking for work in the Czech Republic, Portugal and Italy.”
Still, even as they venture out into the world, the Hutsuls hang on to their traditions. On Christmas visits, Mrs. Havryliuk’s three grandchildren never fail to return to carol.
For more from this story see, Faith and Tradition.
21 December 2011
Tags: Ukraine Orthodox Church Carpatho-Rusyn
A girl lights a candle during Christmas night Divine Liturgy at the church of Three Prelates in Moscow. (photo: Julia Vishnevets)
Last night marked the beginning of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. Tony Spence, of the Catholic News Service recently blogged about Christian and Jewish ties that date back to the origins of the celebration.
While most Christians know that the Jews are celebrating Hanukkah this season, not all that many know the the story of the festival and the heroic deeds of the Maccabees, the Jewish martyrs who resisted Greek attempts to make them turn away from their ancient faith. Scripture holds that a mother and seven sons chose torture and death rather than renounce their faith. The Maccabees were regarded by the early church as proto-martyrs of the early Christians who died for their faith across the Roman Empire.
In fact, both the Catholic and Orthodox churches even today remember the Maccabean martyrs in their calendars of saints.
In Friday’s The Wall Street Journal, Jon D. Levensen, a Harvard Divinity School professor of Jewish studies and author, writes in his essay — “The Meaning of Hanukkah: A celebration of religious freedom, the holiday fits well with the American political tradition,” that the origins of Hanukkah would have been forgotten in Jewish scholarship and history had it not been for the inclusion of the Book of Maccabees in the Christian Bible.
Read more on the Catholic News Service Blog. And to our Jewish friends: Happy Hanukkah!
20 December 2011
Tags: Russia Russian Orthodox Church Jews Jewish
Father Kiril Kaleda watches children from his parish prepare for a Christmas pageant in Moscow. (photo: Julia Vishnevets)
Recently The New York Times reported on the Russian Orthodox Church’s role in mainstream education.
Just over 20 years ago, any religious education outside church walls was still banned in the Soviet Union. Today, churches are being built on state university campuses, theology departments have opened around Russia, and the Russian Orthodox Church has built its own educational network with international contacts and even become something of a model for the secular system.
Still, state universities struggle on many levels to integrate into the international system; the Bologna Process, an agreement streamlining higher-education standards across Europe, has upset many Russian academics who contend that it undermines the achievements of the Soviet system, where a standard specialist degree required five years of study.
But the Russian Orthodox Church, which started building its education system virtually from scratch in the post-Soviet era, has applied international standards from the outset, said Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun, deputy chairman of the church’s education committee. Speaking of the state education system, Father Hovorun said, “It is more concerned about finding compromises between the old Soviet system and the new European standards.”
In the March 2010 issue of ONE we also featured a story on how the Russian Orthodox Church is adapting to a changing society.
19 December 2011
Tags: Russia Russian Orthodox Church
Women tend a flock of sheep in the historic Noraduz cemetery near Lake Sevan in Armenia. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
What would the approach of Christmas be without a shepherd or two?
Photographer Armineh Johannes has developed a colorful collection of images of Armenian life, as demonstrated in the photo above. We are grateful she has shared this collection with us over the years. To view some of her work for our magazine, check out her photos from the profile, The Armenian Catholic Church, featured in the September 2008 issue of ONE.
16 December 2011
An Iraqi mother holds her child near her home in Syria. (photo: Spencer Osberg)
Yesterday, the U.S. marked the end of a 9-year war in Iraq. Though the combat has ended and the troops are gone, the remnants of the war still remain. The countless number of Iraq’s citizens who have died, lost family members or been displaced in different countries around the world has changed a people and country forever — and left some unfinished business.
In the November 2008 issue of ONE we featured a story on Iraqis who found refuge in Syria, yet were still experiencing hardships:
If a refugee makes it out of Iraq, he or she usually leaves behind the war’s immediate perils. But, for a surprising number of refugees, the conflict’s dangers follow them to their new homes. In Damascus, many Iraqis report receiving messages and calls on their Syrian cell phones threatening torture or death should they return to Iraq. One woman even reported she found the same threatening letter from the same militia group slipped under her door in Damascus that she found while living in Baghdad.
When discussing the war and their own troubles, refugees often evoke an unidentified ominous “they.” While “they” may refer to the Mahdi Army or Al Qaeda, the war’s better known belligerents, they may also refer to any one of a number of loosely organized groups or individuals who threaten, kidnap, extort, torture and kill, usually in a fog of anonymity.
Though Syrian authorities maintain tight security in and around Iraqi neighborhoods — likely a major reason why sectarian violence has not erupted among Iraqis living in Damascus — the influence of Iraqi militias remains palpable in some areas of the city. From high on the tenements’ walls lining the streets of Saida Zainab, posters of Mahdi Army leader, Muqtada al Sadr, and his father, Muhammad Sadeq al Sadr, loom down on passersby. The Mahdi Army also operates an affiliate office in the neighborhood.
For more see, On the Road to Damascus. To learn more about how you can join CNEWA and the churches of the Middle East in supporting the people of Iraq, visit our Canadian website which includes facts, figures and ways you can help.
Tags: Syria Iraq Refugees Iraqi Christians Damascus